City efforts to answer complaints from some activists about plans to resurface a path through the Ladd Arboretum will quadruple the cost to local taxpayers of the project.
Aldermen are scheduled to vote Monday on the new proposal, which calls for a permeable concrete path through the arboretum, rather than a less expensive asphalt path. They had approved the asphalt version of the plan last year.
Arboretum activists argued for using the same gravel or crushed stone material that was used on the original path a half century ago, but city staff said that would be far more costly than asphalt and create a path that would still be prone to flooding during warm weather.
The same section of lakefront path in 2011, when it was surfaced with crushed stone.
In addition, Public Works Director Suzette Robinson says, unlike asphalt and permeable concrete, the crushed stone can’t be plowed, so snow makes such paths inaccessible for three to four months a year.
That, she says, forces students heading to and from Kingsley Elementary School and Haven Middle School to walk on busy McCormick Boulevard and also makes the path unusable by handicapped persons in wheelchairs, including those living just across Bridge Street from the path at Over the Rainbow, a housing facility for disabled adults.
The new path through Perkins Woods, done with crushed stone after neighbors complained.
The city received a federal transportation grant funneled through the state to cover 80 percent of the project cost — up to a cap of $580,000.
For an asphalt path the grant would have covered $466,277 of the cost, leaving city taxpayers to pay $116,569.
For the permeable concrete path the state will pay $580,000, leaving local taxpayers with a bill of $465,433 — four times as much as for the asphalt version.
An asphalt path through the Morton Arboretum in Lisle.
Robinson says asphalt paths are widely used in other park settings — including at the Chicago Botanic Garden, the Morton Arboretum and forest preserves in Cook and DuPage counties.
But she says the permeable concrete will have at least one practical advantage over asphalt, in that because water will soak through it, it should reduce flooding elsewhere in the arboretum.
Arboretum planned to get asphalt path (4/10/14)